No doubt many of you will have read the much publicised case of Penny Johnson v Le Roux Fourie - a businesswoman awarded £6M+ compensation from Leeds-based plastic surgeon who made acosmetic surgery claim afterbotched treatment left her face permanently damaged.I was struck by three things reading the extensive press on this case:
- I was disappointed that some of the press (and much of the reader comments) implied that Mrs Johnson was being greedy. Mrs Johnson was awarded a mere £80,000 for Fourie's abominable blunder. You need only to glance at the photograph and most would agree that that this aspect of her award is fairly poor redress for such a devastating injury. Without context, clinical negligence cases are too frequently viewed as being overcompensated. This is very damaging to the public perception of victims of medical accidents. The vast majority of Mrs Johnson's seven figure pay-out was made up of loss of earnings. Mrs Johnson was awarded £6 million, and whilst this is an undeniably staggering sum of money, it is a fraction of the projected earnings she had claimed. If the average earner was only awarded such a small fraction of their claimed losses, they would be legitimately frustrated - shouldn't Mrs Johnson be afforded the same benefit?
- The importance of insurance: Mr Fourie was only insured up to £10M. Is it enough for patients to only enquire of the existence of an insurance policy? Is it now becoming necessary to ask the limit of indemnity? It would be a bitter pill to swallow having agreed to surgery under the impression the surgeon is adequately insured, to find that when the unthinkable happens, the cover falls short.
- I would echo my earlier blogs about the importance of researching your cosmetic surgeon before electing to undergo surgery. This of course does not guarantee a successful outcome, but it may significantly improve your chances.
Despite the £6,190,884.92 awarded, I imagine that Mrs Johnson would unreservedly consider herself to have been far better off (physically,mentally and financially) had this medical accident been avoided.Iona Millais is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.